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Obama Says Cuba Doesn’t Sponsor Terrorism. So What Are All These Hijackers and Bomb-Makers Doing There?

Obama Says Cuba Doesn’t Sponsor Terrorism. So What Are All These
Hijackers and Bomb-Makers Doing There?

The White House says that Cuba has nothing to do with terrorism. But
Havana is like a Star Wars cantina of Cold War radicals—including some
of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists.

If you happened to have found yourself in possession of a hijacked
airplane circa 1970, chances are that you would have steered it to Cuba.
From 1968 through 1972, over 80 American civilian jetliners were
hijacked to the communist island. So popular was Cuba as a destination
for airline hostage takers that the British Sun newspaper once featured
a photograph of a flight attendant with the caption, “Coffee, tea,
or—Castro?” on its front page.

This history is relevant in light of the Obama administration’s
announcement Tuesday that it will remove Cuba from the State
Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Obama had called for a
review of the listing back in December, and the move comes as part of
his broader push for normalizing relations between the two countries.
De-listing Cuba will make it much easier for U.S. financial institutions
to conduct business in Cuba and for Americans to use their credit and
ATM cards on the island. It will also pave the way for Obama’s ultimate
goal—the upgrading of the Cuban interests section in Washington to an
embassy—as Cuban diplomats were unable to open bank accounts due to the
sanctions.

To date, the United States has received nothing substantive in return
for the raft of concessions it has made to the Castro regime. Taking
Cuba off the state sponsors of terrorism list without any reciprocal
moves from Havana on human rights issues is a logical next step. But
removing Cuba is not only poor negotiating strategy, it’s also wrong on
the merits. Havana is still harboring dozens of terrorists—including
several Americans.

On Wednesday, the State Department announced that “Cuba has agreed to
enter into a law-enforcement dialogue with the United States that will
work to resolve these cases.” By “resolve,” it must mean “ignore,”
because Washington has already lost nearly all leverage it has with
Havana. The Cubans have long stated that they will never turn the
terrorists they consider political refugees. Having been given nearly
everything they want by the Obama administration — short of the closing
of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which, considering the way these
“negotiations” have progressed, may be the next unilateral concession
Washington will make — there is even less reason for them to give an
inch now. As long as President Obama wants normalization more than the
Cubans do — which he evidently does, given the secretive way he went
about the negotiations leading up to the announcement in December — then
normalization will occur, regardless of American national interests.

Cuba was originally placed on the terrorism list in 1982, as punishment
for its support of communist insurgencies in places ranging from
Nicaragua to Angola. In recent years, it shared a place on that list
with just Iran, Sudan, and Syria. (The Bush administration
controversially removed North Korea in 2008.) There are some 70 American
fugitives from justice living in Cuba today, though not all are
terrorists. And while Cuban soldiers may no longer be fighting
American-backed proxies in Southern Africa, Cuba remains something of a
Star Wars cantina of violent Cold War-era radicals.

The most prominent figure in this rogue’s gallery is JoAnne Chesimard
AKA Assata Shakur, godmother to the late Tupac Shakur and a
distinguished member of the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List, where she
has the dubious honor of being the first and currently only woman. In
1973, Shakur, then a member of the Black Panther Party, participated in
the execution-style killing of a New Jersey State Trooper. In 1979,
members of another black radical nationalist group busted her from
prison; five years later she resurfaced in Cuba, where she had won
political asylum. According to a fellow at New York University’s Center
for the United States and the Cold War who has met with her, Shakur
lives under the constant watch of Cuban security along with one of her
accomplices, Nehanda Abiodun. Though there exists a $2 million bounty
for her capture, a Cuban journalist who visited the American interests
section in Havana wrote several months ago that the FBI Most Wanted sign
beseeching her capture is no longer even posted in the building. It’s
likely a signal that the Obama administration does not plan to make her
extradition a condition for improved relations.

“If anything went down, you went to Cuba,” the hijacker said. He added
that he misses the French fries back home, but if he waits long enough,
he may be able to enjoy the glories of McDonald’s in Havana.
Another terrorist assumed to be living large under the protection of the
Castro brothers is William Morales, a bomb maker for the Puerto Rican
FALN separatist organization. According to the FBI, the group
perpetrated over 100 bombings throughout the 1970s and 80s. In 1978,
Morales lost nine fingers when one of his projects blew up prematurely;
the following year he was convicted in federal court of possessing
illegal explosives and weaponry and sentenced to 89 years in prison.
Morales escaped to Mexico, and he is now believed to be hiding in Cuba.

Then there’s Charlie Hill, a black power militant involved in the murder
of a policeman in 1971. On the run, he and two comrades stole a tow
truck at gunpoint, crashed it through the gates onto the runway of
Albuquerque airport, and hijacked a TWA plane. Told by the pilots that
it could not fly all the way to Africa—where the men originally wanted
to flee—they instructed the crew to take them to Cuba instead. “If
anything went down, you went to Cuba,” Hill recently told CNN. He added
that he misses the French fries back home, but if he waits long enough,
he may be able to enjoy the glories of McDonald’s in Havana, much to the
displeasure of Western leftists scrambling to visit the island prison
fast before American businesses and tourists “plague” the
poverty-stricken country with their money and infrastructural
investments, as MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry fretted.

It is not only American terrorists who find safe haven in Cuba. Over a
dozen members of the State Department-listed Basque terrorist group ETA
reside on the island, though the Cuban government has repatriated
several members back to Spain. Last month, however, the Spanish
government requested that the United States try to persuade Cuba to
extradite two ETA leaders; it’s difficult to see how that will ever
happen now that Washington has surrendered even more leverage to Havana
by removing it from the State Department list. Cuba also shelters a
number of insurgents associated with the FARC, a Marxist-Leninist
terrorist organization long at war with the Colombian government. In
2013, the Panama Canal Authority seized a North Korean-flagged ship
ferrying undeclared weapons and armaments—including two Soviet-era MiG
fighters and surface-to-air missile systems—from Cuba. According to a
United Nations report on the seizure, commissioned in respect to
Havana’s violation of a Security Council-imposed arms embargo on the
North, the shipment “constituted the largest amount of arms and related
materiel interdicted to or from the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea since the adoption of resolution 1718,” prohibiting the transfer
of various weapons.

North Korea is not the only rogue regime aided and abetted by Cuba. A
2014 report by the Washington-based Center for a Secure Free Society
alleges that Cuban state security had assisted Venezuelan officials with
passport technology information to help provide new identities to nearly
200 individuals from the Middle East. Cuban intelligence officers serve
as the Praetorian guard of President Nicolas Maduro’s chavista regime in
Venezuela, where they were involved in the murderous crackdowns on
pro-democracy demonstrations last year that led the Obama administration
to issue sanctions on Venezuelan officials last month. The White House
statement announcing the measures declared a “national emergency with
respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security
and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in
Venezuela.”

When I visited Cuba recently, a massive campaign was underway,
orchestrated by the Venezuelan government with the support of its
lackeys in Cuba, to gain signatures for a petition protesting the
sanctions, to be hand-delivered by Maduro to Obama at last week’s Summit
of the Americas in Panama. In a lame attempt at assuaging the feelings
of Latin American populist thugs, deputy national security advisor Ben
Rhodes, the point man for Obama’s opening to the Castro regime,
explained away the Executive Order as just so much bureaucratic
language. “The United States does not believe that Venezuela poses some
threat to our national security, we frankly just have a framework for
how we formulate these executive orders,” he said, calling the wording
“pro forma.” Last year, the administration similarly contradicted itself
with regard to the behavior of a rogue Latin American regime when
Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Cuba is “not cooperating
fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” only to look past that
declaration with this week’s announcement.

After shaking Raul Castro’s blood-drenched hand last week in Panama,
Obama explained his rationale for the change in relations he is seeking.
The Cold War, he said, “has been over for a long time, and I’m not
interested in having battles that, frankly, started before I was born.”
It was a typically narcissistic remark from the president, whose
interest in diplomatic history extends only insofar as it can be used to
fault his own country. But history matters very much to the Castro
brothers, who have ruled over a tropical totalitarian dictatorship for
over five decades. Before legitimizing the Cuban government with
normalized relations, the Cuban regime ought first address this
“history” and extradite the American terrorists in its midst.

Source: Obama Says Cuba Doesn’t Sponsor Terrorism. So What Are All These
Hijackers and Bomb-Makers Doing There? – The Daily Beast –
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/15/obama-says-cuba-doesn-t-sponsor-terrorism-so-what-are-all-these-hijackers-and-bomb-makers-doing-there.html

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